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ObamaCare: It's all about control

| Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

On health care, the president's pile of broken promises keeps getting higher. Consider this gem from Aug. 20, 2009: “Let's be clear about the fact that nobody has proposed anything close to a government takeover of health care.”

Well, yes, somebody did. President Obama is now well on his way to orchestrating the federal government's takeover of Americans' health care.

Commandeering the resources of major federal departments, particularly the Department of Health and Human Services and the IRS, the administration and its allies in Congress have created numerous federal bureaus, commissions and programs and have issued thousands of pages of rules, regulations, guidelines and directives, all reinforced by unprecedented mandates and new taxes, fees, fines and penalties. Central planning and coercion holds this sprawling thing together.

Virtually all key health care decisions will be made by government officials. Not you. Not your employer. Not your insurance company.

Beginning Jan. 1, government officials will require you to buy a federally approved health plan or pay federal fines or tax penalties. They will define and redefine, at their pleasure, the content of your health benefits package, meaning the medical treatments and procedures you must have; the kind and level of preventive health care services you must have; the level of coverage you must have; the level of cost sharing, deductibles and co-payments that are acceptable — to them, not you.

Writing in the October 2010 edition of The New England Journal of Medicine, Sara Rosenbaum, professor of law at George Washington University and a supporter of the law, perhaps best described ObamaCare's transformative effect on private insurance: “It will take on certain characteristics of a public utility.” In other words, private insurance will be “private” in name only.

You will get what government officials say you will get.

Because the statutory language is often vague, “experts” at HHS and the IRS are free to write detailed regulations that cover a multitude of thorny items, such as the definition of “quality care” or “value” in doctor- or hospital-care delivery. Of course, officials who make the rules can make exceptions to the rules, issuing waivers, or exemptions, or securing special treatment for favored groups. The most obnoxious example is the Office of Personnel Management's decision to give hefty taxpayer subsidies to members of Congress and congressional staff to offset their premium costs in the new health insurance exchanges next year. Those special subsidies are bereft of statutory authority.

Government officials will exercise more control over the flow of your health care dollars and subject you to mandates and penalties. Your personal freedom will be curtailed by those who claim to know what is best for you.

Meanwhile, the president and his allies will insist that what you are witnessing firsthand is not a “government takeover” of health care.

You can either believe them or your own eyes.

Robert Moffit is a senior fellow in the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

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